National Science Foundation grant will boost high-performance computing

National Science Foundation grant will boost high-performance computing
Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded UNC Charlotte $474,840 to enhance its research infrastructure. The funding makes possible an advanced network that will improve communication among researchers and their external partners, accelerate research workflows and allow new, innovative research processes to emerge. A diverse team of faculty researchers, research computing and networking experts from across the University are collaborating to develop and deploy the network.

Championed by the Office of OneIT, the support will allow UNC Charlotte to build upon its current high-performance computing capabilities. Within the University’s high-performance computing environment, researchers have studied complex data to help solve local, regional and worldwide problems. Examples include analyzing how drugs may possess similar mechanisms to one another yet show varying levels of effectiveness

Teams have used these robust systems for genetic sequencing studies, including exploring tissue regeneration and how to predict a particular species’ ability to survive disease and environmental threats like climate change. These systems remove bottlenecks in data analysis that would otherwise delay research. 

The new research network will enable researchers to move massive datasets across campus and to and from the internet much faster. It will dramatically increase the processing speed for projects like the UNC Charlotte program to survey wastewater and sequence variants of SARS-CoV-2 and make sense of those data with partners in engineering, bioinformatics, biology and computer science. 

“With NSF-supported upgrades that include a campus-wide, fiber-based 100 GB network, our researchers and students, and those at other universities, will compute and share results faster than ever for quicker solutions to real-world problems,” said Chris Maher, director of University Research Computing. “Undergraduate and graduate students, including many underrepresented and first-generation college students, will gain the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art cyberinfrastructure.”

The advanced network will dramatically improve communication among researchers, scientific instrumentation, visualization workstations, high-performance computing infrastructure and external collaborators. Access to the advanced network will accelerate research workflows and allow for new research processes previously unavailable.

The NSF investment in research communication infrastructure follows closely on the heels of support by the federal CARES Act in the research computing infrastructure last year. Maher said these upgrades increased computational capability by 40%, and data provisioning in a second data center adds to the system’s robustness. 

University research computing resources are available across the University, enabling Charlotte researchers to tackle increasingly challenging problems. For more information about research computing at UNC Charlotte, visit

National Science Foundation funding has been provided by award 2126116.